Friday, September 24, 2010

"Easily Offended"

Have you ever known someone who was easily offended? I know a person like that...Me! Over the years it has gotten better, but I can get offended at the silliest things. What did they mean by that? Why did they look at me that way? How dare they speak to me that way? It offends, it hurts, it festers and left untreated it can allow a root of bitterness to grow. I was recently offended. My feelings were hurt. I felt that I had been treated unjustly. I was sharing this with my dearly loved, wise friend who is my confidant. She shared with me that Lord had been teaching her "how NOT to be offended." She explained that it was a choice. We can choose NOT to be offended. What a freeing concept! My 11 year old recently lived this concept out in his own life, thus encouraging momma bear to do the same. Matthew is in the fifth grade and recently he asked a question in class. The substitute teacher for that day was VERY ugly to him and got in his face embarrassing him in front of the whole class. I did not feel that his question was out of line and I asked him how he responded. He said, "I just said, yes ma'am and let the class laugh." Well momma bear broke out the claws and was heading to the school to have a talk with the administration. That was to be this substitutes LAST classroom experience. Matthew begged and pleaded with me not to address the issue. "Mom, maybe she had a bad day. Maybe she thought I wasn't paying attention. I can get over it and let it go. I don't mind if the students laugh at me. I can handle it. Just please let it go...I don't want you to be known as 'that parent." Matthew made a choice NOT to be offended. He was letting it go and laying it down. Proverbs 19:11 says "A man's wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offense." It is to our glory to overlook an offense, to forgive and move on, to decide not to become bitter. So often for me, my offenses are born out of pride. I think of myself more highly than I should. I am not saying to let people run over you, but remembering a quote I once read, "The only right we have as Christians, is the right to give up our rights." I like to stand on my rights. I like to think I am above persecution, ridicule and being spat upon. Jesus was not above these things. He lived and walked just as we do yet without sin and he was not exempt, yet He did not revile and He did not hold a grudge. He chose NOT to be offended. He chose to forgive. The next time you are treated unjustly, unfairly or someone hurts your feelings, remember you have a choice. You can choose to NOT be offended.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Worry Free"

Our 6 year old, Joshua, is our confident, independent, conquer the world child. I had no worries about him going to 1st grade because Joshua can handle pretty much anything. About 2 weeks into school Joshua began to experience what the Dr. labeled as anxiety attacks concerning school. He would cry every morning and every night, he would have tummy aches, his chest would hurt until he could not breathe and he would bite on his fingernails every time you mentioned school. It was becoming a very debilitating situation. One particular morning as he left for school sobbing, I closed the door behind him and did the same. I began to intercede on behalf of my precious little man and I had friends who were being prompted to do the same. I called Matt and ask if he would go eat lunch with Joshua and check on him. As they ate lunch together Matt began to share some scripture with him. Matthew 6:25-34"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matt explained to Joshua that the Bible says do not worry and if we worry we are sinning against God and His word. Joshua replied, "Oh I didn't know worry was a sin. I guess instead of worrying I will just pray." Each day began to get better and better and just this week Joshua informed me, "Hey mommy, I'm over that school thing. I realized that I was worrying about things that may or may not ever happen and that is worry so instead I just pray." Wow, what a lesson that has been etched into the heart of my 6 year old and transformed his life. How many of us as adults "struggle" with worry on a daily basis. All it took for Joshua was to recognize it as a sin and decide that instead of living in sin, he would pray and lay it at the feet of His savior. I think this is what Jesus was referring to when he talked about "childlike faith." Joshua takes God's Word seriously. He doesn't want to live in sin. He wants to honor and please His heavenly Father. It is my prayer that we too can learn a lesson from the testimony of a 6 year old and refuse to live in the daily sin of worry and choose to live worry free as we pray and seek the heart of our Father concerning each and every situation.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"The Reward Is The Fun Part"

On occasion I have heard people say that they like to exercise. I don't understand that. Who really LIKES to exercise? I like the results from exercising, but I do not like the actual exercise. It is hard work. It makes you sweat and hurt and it is no fun. There are other things in life that can be just as difficult. Yard work for example is a pain, but the end result is a gorgeous yard. Over the years I have learned that marriage is the same way. Marriage is a lot of work. It requires a lot of effort. It calls us to die to self, lay aside our own wants and desires at times and serve someone else. Sometimes biting our tongue, letting go of our rights and deferring to someone else is just plain hard. But, the reward of an incredible marriage is so worth the effort. The things in life that produce the greatest reward usually costs us the most effort, work and sacrifice. I was reminded this week that even Jesus had to go through work, effort and sacrifice as he hung on that cross. He didn't want to be there. He even ask His Father if this cup could pass from him to please do so. In other words, if there is any other way please spare me from this grief and yet scripture says in Hebrews 12:2 "for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross." The joy was not found in the moment, but for the joy that was set before Him. For the joy that was to come, He endured the cross. It says that He endured... What are you enduring today? Are you enduring a hardship, a rebellious child, a distant spouse, an estranged friend, a financial trial? For the joy set before you, endure this time. The reward is always the fun part. I have been watching what I eat and been on the elliptical for 3 weeks and I have lost 13 pounds. I will be honest, I hate it. It is hard. It is discipline. It is training my body and my mind to think and act differently. The same is true in other areas of our lives. We have to choose to NOT react in the way that comes natural to our flesh. We must choose to be obedient to scripture and live a life that is above reproach. Sometimes it is hard to bite our tongue with our spouse. Sometimes it is hard to serve when we feel like being selfish and doing for ourselves, but the reward of a loving marriage that honors Christ is far greater than the effort we have put forth. For the joy set before HIM... Choose today to give it all you have and watch and wait to see the reward that God has promised to those who obey Him.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Parenting Wisdom For Today"

There are some parenting issues that seem to be no brainers. Yes, you have to brush your teeth. No, you may not play in the road. Yes, you have to wear underwear. No, you may not have a swiss cake roll for dinner. Common sense kicks in and makes these decisions for us, unless of course we are exhausted and we feed our children sweets and send them to bed without underwear or brushing their teeth, but for the most part this is the exception and not the rule. Then there are those things that just do not have a concrete answer. For example, potty training. We can read tips, ask friends and try different technics, but there is no right or wrong way to potty train our children. It's just what works for that child. With our first son we tried the cereal method. You place circle cereal in the toilet and use it for target practice. The problem for a 2 year old ensues when the same cereal is in a bowl on the breakfast table. Confusion strikes and that novel idea no longer seems so great. If only potty training were the only gray area in parenting, but we find ourselves faced with many situations that cause us to seek wisdom from outside of ourselves. The problem with this search however is the fact that all of our children are different and what is wise direction for one child may not be wise for another. We find ourselves seeking wisdom this week where our Joshua is concerned. Joshua is my confident, self assured, can handle himself in any situation child. I have often said that if Joshua was lost in downtown New York he would know just what to do. He may be able to handle New York, but first grade has been a whole new world. He has an amazing teacher and a great group of children in his class. He is very smart and is a really good kid. However Joshua has begun to have anxiety attacks due to school. He has had tummy aches, his chest hurts until he can't breathe and he bites his nails and cries at the mention of school. Further research has taught us that Joshua puts a lot of pressure on himself. He is terrified of doing anything to get in trouble and has cut some friendships short because...and I quote..."I don't want to get in trouble by association." We are working closely with his teacher, counselor and principal to encourage Joshua towards personal freedom and learning to enjoy school. Their wisdom and counsel has been encouraging and appreciated, but we would be amiss if we did not seek our ultimate wisdom from our Almighty Father. He created Joshua and knows him better than we do. He knows what is going on in that little mind and heart and ultimately He is the only one who can heal those fears. Caleb has been a great encouragement to Joshua this week as he has been looking up scripture and sharing it with his brother. His favorite verse is Luke 1:37 "For nothing is impossible with God." I have been so blessed to watch these precious brothers encourage and pray for one another. We are praying for and with Joshua and we are memorizing scripture with him as we seeks God's wisdom concerning his anxiety. Yes, we are taking practical steps at school to help him, but we are seeking God's wisdom. Just as in potty training, you pray and ask the Lord to guide you in what works best with your child but you don't leave them in diapers hoping for a miracle. With each of our boys we prayed and potty trained a little differently but we took steps to encourage bladder discipline. The same is true in every parental area we face throughout the years. It may not make sense to everyone else. It may not make much book sense, but as Godly stewards of our children we must seek God's wisdom and ask for direction in how we encourage, discipline, guide, direct and help our children through the different phases of their lives. These are not just coincidental phases, but these are the things that God brings into the lives of our children to mold and shape their character and make them into the children of God that He desires them to be. This is only accomplished through His wisdom and guidance. The next time a situation arises in the life of your child that causes you to scratch your head or throw up your hands, seek the wisdom of our all knowing Father. Ask Him for guidance and direction and watch Him work so that we can give Him the glory, honor and praise for the work He has done. That is where we are today. Seeking and waiting!